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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Cooking/Baking (not recipes) (10/16/08)

TITLE: Little Gems
By Pamela Kliewer


The smell of cinnamon and anise has permeated houses down through the generations, as untold little hands rolled this fragrant dough into long ropes, cut the ropes into small pieces, and placed them on cookie sheets to be popped into the oven to bake. Depending on the recipe used, the size cut and how long these little gems were in the oven, they came out either small and crunchy or with a soft cookie-like texture. The flavor also varied, according to the recipe used – some leave the anise out.

I remember the anticipation I felt as a child when my mom would stir this dough up and put it in the refrigerator to get stiff enough to roll, and let the flavors meld. I’m sure I would bug her for days as to when it was time to roll the dough!

The day would finally come when she would call us four children into the kitchen to roll and cut the dough. Flour was sprinkled on cutting boards, knives were brought out and the fun began. We were making Pfferneuse, Peppernuts, or as we called them, Pepanate (Pay-puh-nate).

Laughter filled the walls of our warm kitchen, while outside, snow might be falling. Flour was everywhere – on our faces, our hands, all over the table. Soon, we had a pan full and as they baked my mouth would begin to water, as I looked forward to the first one of the season. We didn’t make them every Christmas, but oh the joy when we did. I always liked my mom’s the best, because they were crunchy and sometimes hard, just like my maternal Grandma made them. The soft ones just weren’t pepanate to me – although, that’s what my dad grew up with and he loved them.

This is one tradition I have carried on in our small family – my husband likes them without anise, as his mom made them without. My twenty-two-year-old daughter just asked me, moments ago, if I was going to make them again this year. It’s something she has enjoyed doing from the time she was a little girl.

The warmth of this tradition brings a special joy to my heart as I remember my paternal and maternal grandmothers who have gone on before me. I wonder what it was like in their kitchens, when they were carrying on this tradition. Were their children just as excited as I was, when I was a small girl, and as my daughter was, and still is, at the thought of making these delicious little treats?

Christmas Baking traditions – ushering in the holiday – joining the hearts of generations, making me aware of more than recipes passed down from mother to daughter, and so on. I am made aware of the love that has lived in hearts and homes. Laughter still resounds through the annals of time as I picture in my mind’s eye the little hands that have, across the years, shaped the dough that has been mixed by larger hands. Hands that have held, disciplined, and nurtured… taking care of family needs and bringing in the fun of Christmas baking – causing smiles to light faces and eyes to dance with joy.

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This article has been read 882 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Tim Pickl10/25/08
Excellent memories, written like Little Gems from your heart to ours. I can relate to the Christmas memories here--thank you!
Shelley Ledfors 10/27/08
Lovely memories...and the continuing of a tradition, too! I love these Christmas stories. Thank you for sharing!
Celeste Ammirata10/28/08
Thank you for sharing these endearing Christmas memories. What a sweet story.
Joshua Janoski10/28/08
It's these little family traditions that have such a big impact on our hearts and on our memories.

Thank you for sharing these memories with us. I enjoyed reading about them. :)
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/29/08
I enjoyed sharing your sweet Christmas memories. I love continuing those family traditions, too. Thanks for reminding me of my own!
Angela M. Baker-Bridge10/29/08
Wonderfully portrayed sense of family and tradition.
Karlene Jacobsen10/29/08
What beautiful memories...
LauraLee Shaw10/29/08
This piece is a big gem. Very beautifully written.
Leah Nichols 10/30/08
A lovely reflection on family baking traditions - they're most enjoyable, aren't they? Nice work.
Marijo Phelps11/26/08
Yum, wish I could be in that kitchen right now! Good memories, well written!